I’ve got no beef with Hansen: Gatland

Wales coach Warren Gatland says he has no problem with All Blacks counterpart Steve Hansen but reinforced the resentment at his treatment in New Zealand during this year’s British and Irish Lions tour.

Gatland surprised journalists by fronting a media session in Cardiff on Monday ahead of this weekend’s Test against the All Blacks, which is already gathering hype.

The Kiwi doesn’t usually appear until later in the week but clearly wanted to front foot issues related to his relationship with Hansen and his home country.

Perceived acrimony between the pair was a constant theme throughout the Lions’ mid-year tour.

Hansen always played down speculation of a rift and the pair shared a handshake and a chat after the drawn third Test at Eden Park which left the series squared 1-1.

Gatland has subsequently been outspoken about elements of the tour in various interviews and in a book devoted to the six weeks down under.

However, he says the coaches are amicable.

“People are trying to make something out of myself and Steve,” he said.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for him. I look forward to catching up with him after the game. We all understand the pressures that we’re under.”

Gatland wasn’t so tranquil on the topic of what he says was extreme personal criticism from elements in the New Zealand media.

He remained bitter about attacks which left him “hating” the tour despite the Lions’ exceeding expectations.

“There was no way I was going to allow it to get the better of me. I felt like I was in a boxing match and that I was going to come out on top of it,” he said.

“There was some pretty underhand stuff going on and it was challenging. One or two people I’d like to get into a room with me but that might have to wait for another day.”

Gatland resented being depicted as a clown in one newspaper and said he wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happened again this week.

The 54-year-old appeared to back down from claims in his tour book, “In the Line of Fire”, that he held explosive information on the All Blacks team and would bring it to light if provoked.

“If there’s criticism of me this week, I won’t be responding to it because there’s no point, you can’t win,” he said.

All Blacks flanker Sam Cane was also drawn into the Hansen-Gatland maelstrom on Monday, asked if his coach seemed more motivated than usual to prevail this weekend.

“Steven’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever come up against,” Cane said.

“I haven’t got any inkling or insight from him that he’s treating it different to any normal Test.”

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